In Buddhist mythology, the garuḍas (Pāli: garuḷā) are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the garuḍa is suparṇa (Pāli: supaṇṇa), meaning "well-winged, having good wings". Like the Nāgas, they combine the characteristics of animals and divine beings, and may be considered to be among the lowest devas.
The exact size of the garuḍa is uncertain, but its wings are said to have a span of many miles. This may be a poetic exaggeration, but it is also said that when a garuḍa's wings flap, they create hurricane-like winds that darken the sky and blow down houses. A human being is so small compared to a garuḍa that a man can hide in the plumage of one without being noticed (Kākātī Jātaka, J.327). They are also capable of tearing up entire banyan trees from their roots and carrying them off.
Garudas are the great golden-winged Peng birds. They also have the ability to grow large or small, and to appear and disappear at will. Their wingspan is 330 yojanas. One yojana is 40 miles long, so you can see how long 330 yojanas must be! With one flap of its wings, a Peng bird dries up the waters of the sea so that it can gobble up all the exposed dragons-big, little, young, and old! With another flap of its wings, it can level the mountains by moving them into the ocean.
Garudas have very great spiritual penetrations, and dragons used to fear them more than anything. But since the garudas have taken refuge with the Buddha, they live in peace with the dragons and don't eat them anymore. Chapter One of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra explains the four kinds of garudas.
There were also the four garuda-kings : Great-Power-Virtue Garuda-King, Great-Body Garuda-King, Great-Fulfillment Garuda-King, and Free-At-Will Garuda-King, each accompanied by hundreds of thousands of attendants.
The garuḍas have kings and cities, and at least some of them have the magical power of changing into human form when they wish to have dealings with people. On some occasions Garuḍa kings have had romances with human women in this form. Their dwellings are in groves of the simbalī, or silk-cotton tree.
The garuḍas are enemies to the Nāgas, a race of intelligent serpent- or dragon-like beings, whom they hunt. The garuḍas at one time caught the nāgas by seizing them by their heads; but the nāgas learned that by swallowing large stones, they could make themselves too heavy to be carried by the garuḍas, wearing them out and killing them from exhaustion. This secret was divulged to one of the garuḍas by the ascetic Karambiya, who taught him how to seize a nāga by the tail and force him to vomit up his stone (Pandara Jātaka, J.518).
The garuḍas were among the beings appointed by Śakra to guard Mount Sumeru and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from the attacks of the asuras.
In the Mahasamyatta Sutta, the Buddha is shown making temporary peace between the Nagas and the garuḍas.
The Sanskrit word garuḍa has been borrowed and modified in the languages of several Buddhist countries. In Thai the word for a garuḍa is Krut (ครุฑ). In Burmese, garuḍas are called ga-lon. In Kapampangan the native word for eagle is Galura. In Japanese a garuḍa is called Karura (however, the form Garuda ガルーダ is used in recent Japanese fiction - see below).
For the Mongols, the garuḍa is called Khan Garuda or Khangarid (Mongolian: Хангарьд). Before and after each round of Mongolian wrestling, wrestlers perform the Garuḍa ritual, a stylised imitation of the Khangarid and a hawk.
In the Qing Dynasty fiction The Story of Yue Fei (1684), Garuda sits at the head of the Buddha's throne. But when a celestial bat (an embodiment of the Aquarius constellation) farts during the Buddha’s expounding of the Lotus Sutra, Garuda kills her and is exiled from paradise. He is later reborn as Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. The bat is reborn as Lady Wang, wife of the traitor Prime Minister Qin Hui, and is instrumental in formulating the "Eastern Window" plot that leads to Yue's political execution.Source